Tim Howard v. Robin van Persie: on deck today

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Manchester City-Chelsea may be the big fire sucking all the oxygen from the EPL room this week, but there’s a juicy match at Goodison Park, too.

Just 40-or-so minutes West of Manchester by motorway, Arsenal visits Everton with precious Premiership points at sake. Arsenal needs to stay ahead of Chelsea to keep fourth spot and the Champions League berth. (Or better yet, fetch Tottenham and pull into 3rd for an automatic UCL berth, rather than a less favorable qualifier berth.)

Everton can’t be blamed if extra focus is directed these days to FA Cup pursuits – and what an accomplishment that would be for Tim Howard’s side. Still, they’d love the Premiership points, too.

“We want to try to get up there ‘round about 7th or 8th, and try to nick a European spot,” said Toffees coach Steve Round, a top member of David Moyes’ staff. “Whether or not we can, remains to be seen.”

“It should be a cracking game,” he said.

It should be for anybody who enjoys a great matchup. Robin van Persie is far and away the Premiership’s top marksman for 2011-12 with 33 goals in all appearances. Wednesday he’ll be trying to sneak ‘em past Howard, the longtime U.S.A. No. 1 and venerable keeper of Goodison goal.

Here is Round’s 8-minute press conference from Tuesday, via Everton FC’s official site.

Today’s 4 p.m. ET match is live on Fox Soccer Channel.